When it comes to gaming peripherals, we have a wealth of options to chose from. Everything from multiple types of keyboards to displays and controllers that you can use to get the best performance out of ourselves. Gaming mice have similarly been a thing for years now, but the physical design of the mouse has hardly changed over the years. Of course, there are MMO mice that give you way more buttons to work with when you're raiding, and there are even mice specifically made for MOBAs. The Z, however, is of a different kind entirely. Swiftpoint has taken a good long look at what the mouse is typically used for and have slapped a range of options on top that have the potential to be groundbreaking in terms of application both in and outside of gaming. Priced at $229, this mouse aims to provide a a fresh take on power user mice for a premium price. Let's see if the boasts coming from the New Zealand-based Swiftpoint are worth the asking price!
The BoxThe Swiftpoint Z comes in a durable travel case to keep the device safe if you need to bring it with you someplace else. It's a nice inclusion to be sure, especially since you don't want to wreck your new $230 toy in transit. Inside the travel case you'll find a quick start guide to get you rolling, additional tilt bases (more on that later), extra button caps to customize some of the Z's buttons with, and a flight stick extender that can be placed on the bottom of the mouse to allow you to use the built-in gyroscope so you can fly around in games like Elite: Dangerous or your favorite flight simulator.
SpecsThe Swiftpoint Z boasts a rather impressive list of specs. 16 buttons, all of which can be configured to respond to whatever command you like, a max output resolution of 12,000 DPI, force touch sensitivity under the 2 biggest buttons, a 6' cord, a colored light in the logo that you can set to your favorite colors, and an OLED that can display the info you need. The Z is just over 4 ounces, which is relatively lightweight for the amount of features it's got packed into it.
The mouse also comes with a configurable driver that you can use to assign actions to the different buttons on the Z. These commands can be simple things like binding specific keys to buttons or more complex things like strings of text. The driver has everything you need to tailor the Z to your needs, and it does so in a relatively simple and straightforward way that allows both newcomers and gaming mice veterans to easily create their custom profiles and settings. It took me a while to get used to the driver app, but after a few short sessions clicking everything I could click, I was busy setting up profiles for my current favorite games and apps. However, the app could benefit from a visual redesign to keep it in line with the sleek mouse it comes with. Another thing I'd like to see in future updates are full-fledged tutorials that teach you the basics as well as give you examples of possible uses.
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DesignRight out the gate, the physical appearance of the mouse looks sleek and well-machined, with curves in all the right places. The stylish matte black finish, which is the only color the mouse comes in, will look good on your desk regardless of the tabletop's color, and the programmable OLED logo on top of the Z can be configured to display whatever color you want. In my case that means that the standard color is blue because there are multiple devices on my desk emitting a blue hue, so it seemed like a waste to not go for visual parity.
You can't talk about the design of a mouse without taking a look at how comfortable the mouse is to use. Over the course of a few weeks of using the mouse, I found that the device was comfortable to use, even after long stretches of time. The Z fits really well in your hand and the thing just glides along a mousemat. All added up, the Z is great for daily use as well, even if you don't feel the need to use the width and breadth of features on display here.
Swiftpoint have boasted that the Z is the next evolution of the gaming mouse. A bold claim, especially with a growing amount of competitors all wanting to supply you with gaming mice that all claim to be the best thing since sliced bread. The Z, however, is a bit different in terms of design philosophy. They have, for all intents and purposes, gone back to rethink the wheel somewhat, outfitting the Z with a number of features I never even conceived of wanting in my mouse. Some of these features might look (and in some cases are) a bit superfluous, but Swiftpoint's focus on customizability means that this device can be used for a lot of activities, from professionals in the films and games industry to power users that want more control over their favorite macros.
The mouse comes with a few extra button caps (low and high) so you can customize those buttons to be higher or lower depending on what you're looking for. The Z is making some design choices that are meant to improve the traditional mouse. For starters, the left and right mouse button have been enhanced with pressure sensitivity that allows you to assign different commands to the same button. This "Deep Click" feature can also be set to respond to different pressures. For instance, you can map your use key to a 50% Deep Click, and the reload button to a 100% Deep Click. It's a nifty feature in and of itself, and it works quite well, although its application might be a bit limited for some people. In total, there are 5 buttons on the mouse that have the Deep Click feature; the primary and secondary mouse buttons, the scroll wheel and the two fingertip buttons that sit at the base of the two big mouse buttons.
While I really like how most of the buttons work, the two buttons at the top of the mouse work fine if you press them down, but I found that triggering those buttons (pulling them back with your index and middle finger) was a bit harder than I would've wanted since you need to lift your fingers from the all-important primary and secondary mouse button. One of these is activated with a regular press, the other by pressing down a little harder.
Then there's the tilt bases. These little "feet" (for lack of a better term) can be taken off the mouse and be replaced by a set that props up the Z slightly. This allows you to more easily use the mouse's tilt functions by propping the mouse up a bit, giving you some wiggle room. I found that I had no real need for the easier tilt, but I did use it to peek around corners in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and that worked well enough! This is just one example and one application of this specific feature, of course, but you'll be able to find a use for the feature as well.
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The two triggers near the base of the primary and secondary mouse buttons rest gently against the middle of your finger and can be pressed by slightly extending your finger. Furthermore, these triggers can be activated in two distinct ways: by either pressing them from the top with your finger and by pulling back your fingers to press them from the front. Like with the pressure sensitive primary and secondary mouse button, these buttons can be configured to do pretty much whatever you want. For instance, you can set the top click to correspond to aim down sights and the trigger click to reload your gun. You can swap this example out for anything you like, of course. The sky's the limit. Then there are the two buttons that sit below the triggers. You can swap these buttons out for higher ones if you find it hard to reach them. The button placement is comfortable and easy to reach, and them being lower than the two triggers means that you won't accidentally press these if you meant to pull or press the triggers.
The one big thing I can't get behind is the LCD display on the left side of the Z. It can be programmed to display a variety of things, like which profile you've activated and what DPI you've set the mouse to. While the novelty of a screen slapped onto a mouse is a fun choice, it's not a thing that feels like it's what the mouse needs. I've not really tinkered with it beyond the first week of me using the Z, and I don't foresee using it at any time ever. Maybe I'm not the target audience here and you'll find a use for the screen yourself. Whatever you choose, the LCD screen feels superfluous to me.
I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical when I first laid eyes on the Z's Kickstarter campaign, but after having used the mouse for the past couple of weeks, I can safely say that the Swiftpoint Z does something unexpected: the talk of it heralding in a new age of gaming mice might actually be true. The Z is a fantastic mouse with a wide range of features which, while superfluous to non-power users, are a boon to the gamer who needs a peripheral that can grow with them as their skill rises. The Z looks absolutely gorgeous to boot and an approach to mouse design and customizability that tends to be quite rare. Whether you're a professional gamer looking for a new tool, a video editor looking to become more efficient, or just a plain old power user in need of more hotkeys on his or her mouse, everyone will be able to find a use for the Z.